KAGECHE: How to handle price objections without compromising a sale

How much? This is the crunch time in selling and the sheer agony for many sellers. Is there a perfect way to deal with this objection?

Unless you are the sole vendor of a must-have product (electricity, for instance), there isn’t a way of getting around this. Price can manifest itself as salary (at interviews), fees (consultancy), as dowry or as the conventional shop purchase.

Why is price such a tricky topic in selling? First, because it is singularly objective. Price is a number. There is no grey area in numbers. In itself, a number cannot be made to look hazy. Even Sh999 is not seen as Sh1,000.

Second, the objectivity of the number immediately positions your product or service in the buyer’s mind. If you have watched foreigners buying, you will notice they will first convert the local currency into their home currency, swing their head side to side in quick calculation, and then if the two reasonably match, they nod confirming to themselves that they find the sale fair.

And therein lays the problem with price – it is objective when it is said and yet becomes subjective immediately thereafter, consequently opening itself up to bargaining. Why?

The buyer believes he can get it cheaper (he has equated your apples with another’s he knows) the seller’s voice shook with hesitation as he said the price (and the buyer, smelling fear, lunged for the jugular) or the buyer, even if he feels the price is fair, may still negotiate because he must demonstrate to his superiors that he did so, or because bargaining is culturally acceptable.

The interviewee is asked, “So how much do you expect to be paid?” And he agonises. Should he base it as a percentage of his current income? Or, maybe look to industry standards? Should it be what he knows of the company’s entry level salary? Or should he quote what he believes he is worth?

All these are possible options that ping pong through his mind, and so, despite the panellists already having an entry point (objective), there’s still a possibility that they will reward differently for the same experience depending on how the sale (interview) went (subjective).

The foremost reason why price is questioned by the buyer is because its commensurate value is not immediately appreciated. And only the seller can demonstrate this.

There are times when standing your ground (especially for a service like consultancy) is the solution. In many other instances, price shows up as merely an objection: “You’re too expensive”. The average seller locks on this and becomes defensive pleading, “But we offer this and that and this and that,” and it’s downhill from there.

Progressive sellers acknowledge the objection, “Price is what you pay. Value is what you get,” (or price is cheaper than cost) and immediately shift the discussion to how they address the customer pain point and close.

“You cannot afford to have your factory stall again because of a delay in LPG supply. That is the value you get with our industry known lead time which rhymes well with your Just-In-Time inventory strategy. Please sign here and I’ll follow up with the accountant to see through the payment.”

I know an accomplished seller who on being asked for a 20 per cent discount would acknowledge this and then ask the buyer which 20 per cent of the product he wanted removed.

Does it mean that it is wrong to agree to a discount? No. Sometimes there is wisdom in doing so. For instance, your value is unknown, or you just connect with a buyer, or it is repeat business or its bulk.

Having appreciated the subjective objectivity of price, however, the point is not to simply acquiesce to a discount andor compromise value-even if it means losing the sale.

Kageche is lead facilitator, Lend Me Your Ears a sales training and development firm.